« In this pleasant and retired spot I was sitting not long ago, enjoying gin and that great luxury and blessing of idleness, concerning which so much cant and false doctrine have been preached. It is, no doubt, perfectly true that a few men, a very few men, are born into the world to whom a great task has been assigned by the Almighty, and they are to per¬form this task or fail at their peril. Woe to the prophet who will not prophesy : doubtless. It would have been woe to Turner the painter if, instead of painting, he had devoted all his energies to that queer, disreputable life he led on the riverside by Chelsea, where he was thought to be an odd specimen of the retired mariner. There are the prophets in words and in paint and in other forms who have their work to do and must do it. But, for the rest of us, our » work » is but the curse of Adam, the slavery that we have to endure ; about as blessed as oakum-picking and limestone quarrying and treadmill climbing and the other employments of the poor? fellows that we call convicts, as if we were not as much convicts as they. We have been convicted of the offence of being born, and the sentence of the Court has been that we shall earn an honest living : an awful and a dreadful doom, if we had the courage to confess it. »
Arthur Machen, The London Adventure or the Art of Wandering, 1924.